Wild Paws

Orphaned Beluga

Ages 7+

Can Max and Sarah help a stranded beluga find its way home?

While Max and Sarah are visiting a whale expert, they learn of a baby beluga that is orphaned and stranded up a river. Even worse, a dam is being built across the river and unless the group figures out how to return the whale to the St. Lawrence River soon, the baby will be trapped alone forever!

Scholastic Canada - Orphaned Beluga
ISBN 0-439-98986-8

An Excerpt

The girls jumped out of the car. Max zipped up her jacket, breathing in the fresh spring air. She noticed that the river was quite shallow and there were many sandbars, just as Dr. Leduc had told them. It would be difficult for an animal as large as a whale to swim over them. No wonder the young whale was staying put. He and his mother had gotten through somehow - but getting back out seemed tricky!

“Here is our little boat,” Mrs. Blanc said. She pointed to an aluminium boat that was pulled up on the shore. “You may use it if you wish.”

“Thank you,” Dr. Leduc said. “But first, I must try to have a look at the beluga whale.”

There had been no sign of it. The water was calm, flat and seemed absolutely empty of large mammals. But almost as soon as Dr. Leduc said the words “beluga whale,” just like magic, there was a ripple on the water. And there was the young whale!

Max caught her breath as she saw him surface. The beluga’s head didn’t come out of the water, but the river was so clear, Max could see the animal perfectly. He had curious eyes and a grinning mouth, just like Coco. But this whale wasn’t white like Coco. He was too young to be white yet. His skin was greyish. Max watched as the young whale’s back rolled smoothly through the water, breaking the surface.

“Oh, he’s lovely,” whispered Sarah. “It’s almost like he was waiting for us!”

The little beluga swam up the river in front of them, as if putting on a show. Then, just before he was out of sight, he turned and swam back. He wasn’t nearly as long as the adult whales they had seen in the Saint Lawrence River, but he was chubby like them. Max was enchanted. A baby beluga! Swimming wild and free!

The beluga turned and swam back alongside the riverbank, and then, when he reached a deeper spot, he somersaulted! Max and Sarah burst out laughing.

“Dolphins somersault a lot, but not belugas,” said Claude. “That’s really unusual. All in all, this is a very unpredictable beluga!”

“He’s a gymnast!” Sarah exclaimed, clapping her hands.

Max smiled. She had been so worried. She had imagined the whale lonely and scared, but instead he seemed full of spunk and spirit. She turned to the Blancs. “Have you given the beluga a name?” she asked. “Because I’ve just had a great idea. Could we call him Gymmy, because he is so gymnastic?”

Mrs. Blanc grinned. “That sounds fine to me,” she said.

“Great idea,” Sarah agreed. “Gymmy, the gymnastic beluga whale!”